Meet The Team

Lab Director

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Tiffany Woynaroski, PhD, CCC-SLP
Assistant Professor in Hearing and Speech Sciences

BS, Psychology, Valparaiso University (2002)
MS, Speech-Language Pathology, Vanderbilt University (2009)
PhD, Hearing and Speech Science, Vanderbilt University (2014)

Tiffany received her PhD from Vanderbilt University’s Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences in December 2014 after an extensive clinical career working with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) as an early interventionist/parent educator, speech language pathologist, and autism consultant. She has authored 55 published or in-press peer-reviewed articles, 2 book chapters, and over 110 presentations at academic conferences.

Research Staff

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Bahar Keçeli-Kaysili, PhD
Clinical/Translational Research Coordinator

After two years of extensive experience as a special educator working with young children on the autism spectrum as well as other developmental conditions and their families, Bahar pursued an academic career. She received her Ph.D. in Special Education from Ankara University, Turkey in 2012 and then went on to complete her postdoctoral research fellowship at Vanderbilt University. Her graduate work in special education aimed to understand the relationship of theory of mind and language in children with autism spectrum disorders. Her postdoctoral study focused on the foundations of spoken language acquisition and early communication, and language interventions. Her goal as a researcher is to identify (a) the relationship of theory of mind (ToM) and language in autistic children, (b) early predictors of language outcomes and the mechanisms by which these predictors promote communication and language in autistic children, (c) sensory responsiveness and its relation to later language skills.

She has been an author on 18 peer-reviewed publications and 36 conference presentations.

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Jacob Feldman, PhD, CCC-SLP
Research Fellow

Jacob is a research fellow in the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences. He completed his bachelors in Communication Sciences and Disorders and Psychology at the Pennsylvania State University, his masters in Speech-Language Pathology at Vanderbilt University, and his PhD in Hearing and Speech Sciences at Vanderbilt University.
 

He is interested in early identification of autism spectrum disorder and how audiovisual multisensory integration may explain variance in core autism symptoms and higher level factors, such as language and literacy. He has been an author on 16 peer-reviewed publications, 1 clinical tool, and 64 conference presentations.

Doctoral Students

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Kacie Dunham, BA
Graduate Research Assistant, Neuroscience

Kacie is a PhD candidate in the Neuroscience Graduate Program and Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences at Vanderbilt University. She graduated with a bachelors in Neuroscience with a minor in Music from Vanderbilt University in 2018. 

 

Kacie’s research interests include early identification of autism, sensory processing, particularly multisensory integration, and early language development. She is additionally interested in applying neuroimaging and eye tracking to her broad research interests. Her current research focuses on neural correlates of speech processing and links with language ability in infancy. She has been an author on 9 peer-reviewed publications and 22 conference presentations.

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Jennifer Markfeld, MS, CF-SLP
Graduate Research Assistant, Hearing and Speech Sciences

Jennifer is a second year PhD student in the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences. She completed her bachelors in Communication Sciences and Disorders from James Madison University and her masters in Speech-Language Pathology at Vanderbilt University.

 

Jennifer’s research interests include caregiver-infant interaction, infant language development, and interventions designed to address risk factors that contribute to ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Zachary Williams, BS
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Graduate Research Assistant, Medical Scientist Training Program

Zack Williams is an MD/PhD candidate in the Neuroscience Graduate Program and Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences at Vanderbilt University. He is also an affiliate of the Vanderbilt University Frist Center for Autism and Innovation. He received his bachelors in Psychology from Yale University, where he was heavily involved in autism research at the Yale Child Study Center.
 
Zack's research focuses on the phenomenon of decreased sound tolerance (including hyperacusis, misophonia, and phonophobia) in autistic and non-autistic adults, which he hopes to better understand using a combination of self-report questionnaires, psychoacoustic tasks, and electrophysiologic measures. Additional areas of interest include the assessment and treatment of co-occurring mental health problems and psychosomatic symptoms in autistic adults and the development of novel questionnaires to assess core and associated features of the autism phenotype. You can follow him on Twitter at @QuantPsychiatry and read more about his work here.

Graduate Students

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Olivia Jamieson
Graduate Research Assistant

Olivia is a second year MS-SLP student in the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences. She graduated with a bachelors in Speech Communication Disorders and French from the University of Virginia. Her research interests include caregiver-infant interactions and language development among infants at low- and high-familial likelihood for autism.

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Zoë Kiemel
Graduate Research Assistant

Zoë is a second year MS-SLP student in the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences at Vanderbilt University. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders and a minor in the Spanish language from Texas Christian University in 2021. Zoë has previously pursued research focusing on the oral phase of the swallow in older-healthy adults. Her current research interests include language development and acquisition in infants, and the early identification of autism spectrum disorder in the pediatric population.

Undergraduate Students

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Jonah Barrett
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Jonah is a senior pursuing a degree in Neuroscience with a minor in Psychology. His research interests include how altered sensory perception modulates social communication deficits in individuals with autism.

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Madison Clark
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Madison is a junior double majoring in Neuroscience and Medicine, Health, and Society on the pre-med track. Her research interests include language and communication development in infants both with and without increased likelihood of autism diagnosis. Specifically, she is interested in exploring how the behavioral changes surrounding COVID-19 (i.e., decreased socialization, masking behaviors) have impacted language development in infants born during the pandemic.

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Sophie Kaiser
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Sophie is a senior pursuing degrees in Cognitive Studies and Medicine, Health, and Society with minors in Spanish and Special Education. Her research interests include language and communication development in infants and children with or at high familial likelihood for an autism diagnosis, with a particular focus on how caregiver linguistic responsiveness predicts language outcomes.

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Nisha Mailapur
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Nisha is a senior on the Pre-Medicine track, majoring in Economics. She is also part of The SyBBURE Searle Undergraduate Research Program at Vanderbilt, a research community of undergraduate researchers, scientists, and professionals. Her research interests include studying select behaviors, engagement and protest behaviors, in children with autism when interacting in a social environment, such as the classroom or a restaurant. She is also interested in the factors involved in child development in children with and without autism.

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Grace Pulliam
Research Assistant

Affiliated Students

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Pooja Santapuram, BA
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Pooja graduated from Vanderbilt with a major in Neuroscience in 2018. As a medical student at Vanderbilt, she continues to work in the lab to complete her honors thesis project looking at the link between attention to audiovisual speech and prelinguistic development in infants at high- and low-familial risk for ASD.

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Sweeya Raj, BA
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Sweeya graduated from Vanderbilt with a major in Neuroscience. As a medical student at Vanderbilt, she continues to work in the lab investigating sensory development of children with ASD.